As the gateway into the city for the millions of visitors that pay an arm and a leg to Richard Branson, Piccadilly Approach should be a shining beacon of what the city represents and can offer – but it’s been sorely lacking in recent years.
The last couple of months however has seen a small renaissance of establishments that have joined the likes of Brasserie Abode and Bundobust as somewhere you’d actually want to actually spend some money…
The Kings (and Queens) of the humble toastie, the Church Street branch of Northern Soul has clearly done enough cheese & bread business over the last couple of years to warrant the purchase of a brand new site on Piccadilly Approach.
To be fair it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – any time I walk past this place, especially around dinner time, it’s jam-packed full of punters looking for a slab of carbs stuffed with all manner of cheesy, meaty goodness.
So, of course this new site is more of the same, with a packed menu of not just huge toasties but also some divine pots of Mac & Cheese to devour on your train journey to Blackpool.
You can’t go wrong with their brilliant Pig on a Lead toastie, a firm Finest office favourite with their signature Mac & Cheese and BBQ Pulled Pork all oozing out from between two slices of fried bread in every bite. Perfect for any train journey and much better than anything Upper Crust can knock up.
Northern Soul Manchester
Not to be confused with Flok, or indeed Fika or actually Finca, this Flock is a relative new kid on the block down on Piccadilly Approach and much like the 90’s boy band – they’re taking things Step By Step.
That was quite possibly the best New Kids On The Block joke you’re ever going to hear, so… you’re welcome.
Back to Flock though and they are marketing themselves as ‘The Penthouse of Chicken’ – somewhere you can get your grubby mitts on a range of Street Food dishes from all around the world – all involving that little family sized bird we all know and love.
So you’re going to find the likes of Chicken Katsu Curry, Beijing Salt & Pepper Chicken and New Orleans Buttermilk Chicken all on the same menu.
They also do a rather impressive Ban Mi, as well as a pretty special ‘Evolution’ Burger – which comes piled with kimchi and jalapenos for that much welcomed ‘kick’.
It’s not just chicken though. They do some Canton Salt & Pepper Curly Fries too, which I nicked off someone’s plate last week and they were brilliant. Perhaps they tasted better because I didn’t pay for them? Maybe, but they’re still well worth an extra couple of quid.
I know about this lot because they came into the Finest office a few weeks back and plied us with a range of tacos, burritos and salads, as well as a few (very) welcome bottles of Sol.
During a particularly annoying day, this was an absolute godsend (if I believed in him/her) – and I was thoroughly impressed by it all.
The burritos were massive – with a choice of meat and veggie options, and the tacos surprisingly substantial and filling.
I’ve heard off their website that they also serve up breakfast, which has just been added to my long list of things that I must eat right now. The Mexicans do breakfast brilliantly – so I’m sure this one is a winner too.
If I was a big gym guy, I’m sure I’d also enjoy their Naked Boxes too which are all the things you’d find in a burrito but without those evil, evil carbohydrates that you’d find in a tortilla wrap.
Oh, and they sell booze too!
So there’s these 3 newbies joining a couple of other establishments which I must admit to having a soft spot for. Piccadilly Tap is always great for a beer, especially if you want something other than a fizzy commercial Fosters, while Bravissimi and that Noodle place also do a couple of rather decent lunch options every day. Check ‘em out!